When I first quit drinking (I quite twice, first for 3 years, and now I’ve been sober going on 8 years), I became an emotional wreck.
When I was drinking, especially in high school and college, it was the greatest activity in the world (or so I thought). It also prevented me from dealing with anything real. I didn’t stress out much at all. I just cared about drinking.
Then I quit drinking and emotions hit me like a wrecking ball. I didn’t know what to do. I slept a lot. I was depressed. I had days and weeks where I dwelled in a cesspool of self-pity. I was filled with fear about the future. I had no confidence. I had no motivation.
I know I was depressed. It was terrible. I had been an active person; a happy person (albeit a drunk person as well). Now I was a shell of what I perceived to be my former self.
I went to A.A., but remained miserable. I was impatient to achieve happy sobriety but it just wouldn’t come. This dark period lasted for 3 years. I went out drinking again for two years. Those two years of drinking were horrendous.
Anyway, I was plagued with depression and other problems during this time. I was depressed, but couldn’t accept it. Fortunately, the depression lifted when I returned to A.A. the second time. I built up my life. I did get anti-depressants which helped kick-start my mood. They worked somewhat. I didn’t remain on anti-depressants, but I do credit them with helping me move forward.
Here’s my deal with the depression.
I didn’t want to admit it. I had enough trouble perceiving my alcoholism as a stigma. I also attached a stigma to depression. Basically, I wallowed in shame about what I considered weaknesses. However, once I accepted my alcoholism (stopped asking why and how) and my depression, I took giant steps toward zen sobriety.
You see, my dwelling on the stigma magnified the problem. I was in a self-fulfilling cycle of shame and fear. When I dropped the stigma stinkin’ thinkin’ all together, I got made some great progress. I got motivated and did the 12 steps. I made some friends (a difficult thing for me to do being an introvert), and I started building a life.
I’m not saying all people with depression should take medication or stop taking medication. I’m of the view depression is real, but treatment for each person will be different. Do you works for you.
My point is accept the crap. Accept the depression. Accept the alcoholism. Accept whatever garbage you have. Then resolve to get beyond it. Let go of the stigma and shame. Shame keeps us anchored in the garbage and prevents moving toward zen sobriety.